Which Group One races are run at Royal Ascot?

Which Group One races are run at Royal Ascot? Royal Ascot is, of course, a highlight of the British sporting and social calendar. Remarkably, though, as recently as 1999, the Royal Meeting featured just three highest category, Group One races. Those races were the St. James’s Palace Stakes, Gold Cup and Coronation Stakes.

However, in the interim, several races have gained, or regained, Group One status and, in 2015, Royal Ascot was extended from four days to five to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. At that point, a new Group One race, the Commonwealth Cup, run over six furlongs and restricted to three-year-olds, was added to the programme, making a total of eight in all.

In addition to the aforementioned races, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes was upgraded to Group One status in 2000, as were the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, formerly the Cork & Orrery Stakes, in 2002 and the Queen Anne Stakes in 2003. In 2005, the King’s Stand Stakes, which had previously held Group One status between 1973 and 1988, before being downgraded, became part of the so-called ‘Global Sprint Challenge’. As such, the five-furlong contest attracted a strong international entry, as a result of which it was upgraded to Group One status again in 2008.

Who was Alex Scott?

Who was Alex Scott? The late Alexander ‘Alex’ Scott was a racehorse trainer, who was shot dead by William Clement ‘Clem’ O’Brien, a groom at the Glebe Stud in Cheveley, Newmarket, on September 30, 1994. O’Brien was already employed at Glebe Stud when Scott bought the property in 1992, but developed a ‘deep resentment’ for his new employer. Following an argument during which he told Scott he could ‘stuff his job’, O’Brien lured him to a barn, where he shot him once with a single-barreled shotgun. Scott was just 34 years old. In July, 1995, O’Brien was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.

Formerly a successful point-to-point jockey, Scott served as assistant trainer to Peter Calver, Harry Thomson Jones and Dick Hern before setting up on his own at Oak Stables in Newmarket in 1989. Following the retirement of Olivier Douieb, on health grounds, Scott was recruited by Maktoum al Maktoum and success soon followed. That summer, he saddled Cadeaux Genereux, owned by Maktoum al Maktoum, to win the July Cup at Newmarket and the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

In 1991, Scott hit the headlines again by saddling Sheikh Albadou to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs, Kentucky. At the time of his death, Scott also had Lammtarra, who was, at the time, a promising, once-raced two-year-old, in his care. Of course, Lammtarra went on to win the Derby, King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to finish his career unbeaten. All told, Scott trained 164 winners.

What is ‘overround’?

What is 'overround'? Otherwise known as ‘vigorish’ – an Americanisation of the Russian word ‘vyigryshi’, meaning ‘winnings’ – ‘overround’ is the profit margin that bookmakers factor into a betting market, such that they make money regardless of the outcome. In a ‘fair’ market, the odds for each outcome, once converted to implied probability, should add up to 100%. In a simple coin toss, for example, the odds against tossing heads are 1/1 or ‘even money, which converts to an implied probability of (1/ (1+1))*100 = 50%; the same is true for the odds against tails, so it’s easy to see that 50% + 50% = 100%. However, to guarantee a profit, bookmakers offer odds that are shorter than they should be in a fair market.

Sticking with the coin toss example, let’s say a bookmaker offers odds of 10/11, rather than 1/1, about each outcome. Fractional odds of 10/11 convert to an implied probabiliity of (1 / ((10/11) + 1)) * 100 = 52.4%; 52.4% + 52.4% = 104.8% so, by creating an ‘overround’ book, the bookmaker can expect to pay out £100 for every £104.80 paid in, which yields an expected profit 4.80/104.80 = 4.6%. This approach requires only that each outcome, in this case, heads or tails, is backed proportionally to its chance of winning.

What is an Alphabet bet?

What is an Alphabet bet? In the same way as the name of the multiple bet known as a ‘Heinz’, which consists of 57 bets in total, is derived from the ’57 Varieties’ advertising slogan once used by the H.J. Heinz Company, the ‘Alphabet’ is so-called because it consists of 26 bets in total; in other words, the same number of bets as there are letters in the English alphabet.

The ‘Alphabet’ is a multiple bet on six different selections in six different events, typically horse races or football matches. Selections are combined in two patent bets, one on selections 1, 2 and 3 and another on selections 4, 5 and 6, one yankee bet, on selections 2, 3, 4 and 5 and in six-fold accumulator bet, on selections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Each patent consists of three singles, three doubles and a treble, making seven bets apiece, while the yankee consists of six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold accumulator, making 11 bets. Thus, 7 + 7 + 11 + 1 makes a total of 26 bets.

Of course, the ‘Alphabet’ is not a ‘full cover’ bet. Covering all the permutations of singles, doubles, trebles and accumulators for six selections requires 63 bets in total, and is catered for by the more expensive ‘Lucky 63’ bet. By not covering all the permutations, punters run the risk of missing out if results fall the wrong way; if, for example, selections 1, 2, 5 and 6 win, the Alphabet punter collects on four singles and two doubles, whereas – notwithstanding the increased outlay – the Lucky 63 punter collects on four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold accumulator.

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